UPDATE Friday, March 10
Steve Hepperly of Hepperly Auto Sales in Maryville says he will match donations up to $5,000 and some people have already called his business to help.
MARYVILLE (WATE) – A new pair of electronic glasses could make a world of difference in a nine-year-old Blount County boy’s life, but the cost is too much for the family to handle alone. His school, Lanier Elementary, is working to spread the word of their fundraising efforts.
“He’s legally blind. He was seeing things he’d never said before,” said Jennifer Borden, Andrew’s mom. “He was reading so fast because he got excited that the lady who was doing the demonstration could not keep up with him.”
Andrew Borden was three months old when he was diagnosed with a genetic disorder called ocular albinism, causing a lack of pigment in his hair, skin and eyes and making him legally blind. A Canadian eyewear called eSight could bring Andrew’s vision from 20/200 to 20/20.
The only problem is it costs $10,000.
“Ten thousand dollars might seem expensive, but these glasses are priceless with what they can do,” said Andrew.
“He has just always adjusted. When he was probably two or three years old, we’d get out of the car at Walmart and have him by the hands and ask him where the cars were. And he could tell you what direction there was a vehicle because he had to heighten those other senses,” said Jennifer Borden.
They weren’t really sure what his vision would be as Andrew got older, so they started pushing those senses at an early age.
“The fact that seeing, when we did the eSight demonstration, really seeing what he doesn’t see as opposed to what he can see with eSight, it’s a whole new world. It’s a world of things that he’s never seen before, never experienced before,” Jennifer Borden said.
Because he can’t really see under bright or fluorescent lights, Andrew can only recognize who is talking to him by their voice.
“You can’t look out the window of the car and say, ‘Look at that,’ because he doesn’t see it and a lot of times we don’t realize that because he does compensate so well,” said Jennifer Borden.
“It would be easier if I didn’t have to have this whole big contraption and just bringing it from class to class,” sand Andrew.
Andrew has to use assistive technology in the classroom like screen magnifiers and different types of pencils.
“It would be like using five or six crutches at a time for him, whereas most people with the glasses just use the glasses,” said Susan Lee, Andrew’s vision teacher.
“When I first meet people, they’ll ask me why is my hair white, why do I have to be so close to things, and I tell them I have albinism. It’s a disorder where I can’t see well,” said Andrew. “I was born that way.”
“I cried when he told me they found some technology to help him see better,” said his fourth grade teacher Mrs. Powell.
“You don’t realize how many people care about you until something like this happens and everyone comes together,” said Jennifer Borden.
So far, the Borden family has received a generous $5,000 donation from the Freemasons, which means they’re only $5,000 short of getting Andrew’s new eyewear.
Donations in Andrew Borden’s name can be mailed to Lanier Elementary School, 6006 Lanier Road, Maryville, TN, 37801. A GoFundMe page has also been set up.